Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Pack of Arch Criminals

Arch Criminals (AC) is the name of a group of mystery writers from St. Louis. The main thing we accomplish is to meet once a month for a long lunch. It's a wonderful break from sitting behind a desk! I listen a lot, talk some, and enjoy just hanging out with a group of authors. We meet at the Lewis & Clark's Restaurant in the historic downtown area of St. Charles (on Main Street--can't get more downtown than that) just across the Missouri River from St. Louis County. We have a reserved round table for the ACs who show up that month.

Lewis & Clark's
John Lutz
John Lutz
A few days ago, the faces around the table were Eleanor Sullivan, John Lutz, Christine Matthews, Robert Randisi, and moi. Other Arch Criminals who join us when the mood strikes and time permits are Scott Phillips, Francis Nevins, Michael Kahn, and Eileen Dreyer. Laughter and anecdotes dominated, along with a little writer talk.

Some of those anecdotes dealt with a writer named Albert Nussbaum, a man with an interesting path to a writing career. John and Robert both shared personal recollections.

Eleanor Sullivan
Eleanor Sullivan
Albert Nussbaum was a bank robber in the early 1960s who was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. After eight robberies, he and his partner were caught and Al was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the robberies and a murder that occurred during one of them. (His partner was the shooter.) Al served 14  years, during which he had a lot of time on his hands. He was a very smart man, adaptable to whatever circumstance he ended up in, so he became a writer. After his parole, he wrote for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchock’s Mystery Magazine, and other places. He was prolific, and sometimes had multiple stories in the same magazine under different names. Al passed away in 1996. 
Al Nussbaum
Robert Randisi
Robert told a story of attending a convention where he and four other writers were sharing a room at the hotel to save money. The fifth man was Al, who didn't arrive until late at night when the others were sleeping. Robert got a call from the hotel's front desk saying that there was a very tired and irate man who wanted a key to the room, or at least to find out the room number. Robert assured the desk clerk everything was okay and to send him up. When Al arrived, he was exhausted and settled into the first available bed he saw. Trouble was, that was where Robert had already been asleep, and there he stood in his underwear with nowhere to go back to sleep. Requested cots had never arrived. And that's how Robert ended up sleeping in his underwear next to a famous and very real criminal.
Christine Matthews
Christine Matthews

 I can hardly wait to find out what next month's Arch Criminals lunch meeting brings!

John Lutz is the NYT Bestselling author of SWF Seeks Same, which was made into the movie Single White Female starring Bridget Fonda. His novel The Ex was made into an HBO original movie. His work includes political suspense, private eye novels, urban suspense, humor, occult, crime caper, police procedural, espionage, historical, futuristic, amateur detective, thriller; virtually every mystery sub-genre. He is the author of more than forty novels and over 200 short stories and articles. His current release is Serial, a Detective Frank Quinn novel. 

Eleanor Sullivan is a former Professor and Dean of Nursing and has had a nursing career in which she was showered with honors and awards, including testifying before the U.S. Senate. She has published several nursing textbooks, and has turned her hand to fiction now. She has written the Monika Everhardt series of medical mysteries and has started a new project. Her current release is Cover Her Body, a historical mystery set in 1830s Ohio, in a community that is part of her own family history. An amazing history it is, too. 

Robert Randisi writes primarily in the detective and Western genres. He has authored more than 500 published books and has edited more than 30 anthologies of short stories. He co-founded and edited Mystery Scene magazine and co-founded the American Crime Writers League. He founded The Private Eye Writers of America, where he created the Shamus Award. His latest project, the Rat Pack series of books about the legendary Hollywood group of Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and others from the 1950s-1960s and even later, in various combinations at various times.

Christine Matthews works, in part, as a writing duo with Robert Randisi.They have written short stories and edited anthologies together, as well as written the Gil & Claire Hunt mysteries. As a short story writer, Christine's works have appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine as well as many anthologies, which she also edits. Under her real name, Marthayn Pelegrimas, she has written over forty short stories in the dark fantasy, science fiction, and horror genres.

Then there's me, the author of the supernatural thriller series The Mortal Path. Under my real name of Shirley Kennett, I wrote the PJ Gray series of suspense novels that use virtual reality to simulate crime scenes.  

More to come on other members of the Arch Criminals ...


  1. I'm honored to be among these distinguished folks! What's next? Paparazzi?

  2. I can just see them clustered outside the windows snapping photos.

  3. Well, they should. We're far more interesting than the Kardashians. I'm so mad I couldnt' make it this time. The steering went out on my car, and I couldn't get a rental until 4 that afternoon. Grrrr.